Sexual violence is any sexual act a person did not consent to or is forced into against their will. This includes rape, sexual assault and other sex offences.
You may be seeking help for sexual violence that happened recently or some time ago. Know that in whichever circumstances you are reading this, you do not have to report the abuse you have survived to the police if you do not wish to, your decision to report is your own to make and should not affect access to support services and medical help.
There is also an option to report the abuse you have survived anonymously to police, the way in which you are able to do this varies between Police forces and will depend on the area in which the offence(s) occurred. In some areas you can submit an anonymous report online via the Police website.
If you have been sexually assaulted within the last 48hrs and wish to report to police and undergo a Forensic Medical Examination (FME) please note:
- You may be in shock, if you can do try to stay warm and find somewhere you feel safe.
- If you are physically harmed, require urgent medical attention or are in immediate danger dial 999 immediately.
- Consider telling someone you trust about what happened if this feels doable.
- If you wish to report immediately, for the purposes of preserving as much forensic evidence as possible, do not shower or change clothes and avoid eating or drinking and brushing your teeth.
- You may wish to attend a SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre), hospital or see your GP, you can absolutely do this and can contact them directly.
- If you are unsure whether contraception was used by the perpetrator you may wish to take a course of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) as a precautionary measure, get tested for STIs and treat a potential future unwanted pregnancy. Many SARCs, Sexual Health Clinics, GP’s and Hospitals can assist with this.
Sexual Assault Referral Centre’s (SARC) provide support in a confidential and safe environment with some offering specialist counselling and advocacy services. Some also accommodate Forensic Medical Examinations (FME’s) and can hold this evidence on file for a period of time whilst you contemplate whether you wish to report to police. Forensic Medical Examinations are carried out by specially trained doctors and nurses in a private room and you are entitled to have someone with you.
Find your nearest SARC here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Rape-and-sexual-assault-referral-centres/LocationSearch/364
If you are under the age of 18 and being abused, you can contact the children’s social care team at your local council or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 1111, calls are free and confidential. Childline can also be contacted online. For therapeutic support you can contact The Lighthouse – email@example.com or Tel: 020 3049 0010, available Mon-Sat 10am-8pm and Sun 10am-1pm.
Rape Crisis offer a national helpline operated by Rape Crisis South London on 0808 802 9999 – open 24/7 every day of the year, offering emotional support and information. They also offer an online chat service. Further information including where your nearest Rape Crisis Centre is can be found on their website https://rapecrisis.org.uk/
Survivors UK offer help for men aged 13-18+ who’ve experienced sexual abuse. You can chat to specialist support via text (020 3322 1860) or WhatsApp (074 9181 6064) as well as via their online chat service. Available Mon-Fri 12-8pm, visit https://www.survivorsuk.org/ for more information.
The Survivors Trust offer information, advice and emotional support via their helpline (08088 010 818) Mon-Thur 10am-6pm and Fri 10am-2pm. https://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/
Switchboard offers support services to all who identify as LGBT+ by phone, email and instant messaging. All volunteers identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. The phone line is open 10am-10pm daily (0300 330 0630) you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and access instant messaging services via their website https://switchboard.lgbt/
Women and Girls’ Network. Support women and girls and are open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm and Wednesday evenings from 6pm-9pm – 0808 801 0770. https://www.wgn.org.uk/
Victim Support offer a 24/7 helpline free of charge to anyone affected by sexual abuse– 0808 168 9111 https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
Against Rape is run by Women Against Rape and Black Women’s Rape Action Project they offer self-help guidance, support and legal information. They operate Mon-Fri 1:30pm-4pm (020 7482 2496) http://againstrape.net/
Galop supports LGBTQ+ people affected by sexual violence. They offer an online chat service, email referrals and have a national helpline open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm – 0800 999 5428 http://www.galop.org.uk/
Respond supports children and adults with learning disabilities and autism who have experienced abuse. They offer psychotherapy, advocacy and support. Tel: 020 7383 0700 Email: email@example.com or download a referral form on their website https://respond.org.uk/
Supportline offer emotional support and information to people of all ages who have been affected by sexual violence. They can be contacted by phone (01708 765200) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Their website is: https://www.supportline.org.uk/
National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) provides support for adults who have suffered abuse in childhood. They operate a helpline Mon-Thurs 10am-9pm and Fri 10am-6pm. They can also be emailed via email@example.com and their website is: https://napac.org.uk/
IKWRO provide support such as advocacy, counseling and refuge to Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women and girls living in the UK who have experienced, or at risk of so called “honour” based abuse (Female Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage, Child Marriage, Domestic abuse). Support is provided to cis and trans women of all ages and sexualities in English, Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic, Dari, Pashto, and Turkish. More information can be found on their website: https://ikwro.org.uk/
Rights of Women offer legal advice and information to women who have experienced abuse. Visit their website for helpline hours, specific telephone numbers and more https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/
As many of the survivors who contact us are based in London, below are services available London wide:
London Survivors Gateway provides support for anyone aged 13+ regardless of gender, sexuality, disability, language, ethnicity or immigration status. The Survivors Gateway is a partnership between the four London Rape Crisis Centre’s (Nia, Rape Crisis South London, Women and Girls Network and Solace), Galop, SurvivorsUK and the Havens and is run by the Women and Girls Network. To access support you can complete an online form, available on their website: https://survivorsgateway.london/ or call for free on 0808 801 0860.
The Havens help those who have been sexually abused within the last 12 months and have SARCs in South, East and West London. They can be contacted via phone on 020 3299 6900 24/7 if it’s urgent and you will be seen within 90 minutes of making the referral. For non-urgent calls phone 020 3299 1599 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Here you can receive FME (forensic medical examination), counselling, tests and treatments. https://www.thehavens.org.uk/
For further information for help after sexual assault visit: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/
If you are considering reporting the abuse you have survived to Police and would like to know more or have reported and are wondering what to expect next- we have created the below documents which briefly outline what to expect at each stage of the Criminal Justice System Process. It is by no means extensive and intended to give a general overview.
If you are going through the process without advocacy support: Click here
If you are going through the process with ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advocate) support: Click here